Schooling in SWFL

Back to School: How to Help Your Child Succeed This School Year

Grade school student. Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash
12:29 PM, Sep 06, 2018


Michael Adam Mora

With Labor Day weekend officially behind us, Southwest Florida students are already a few weeks into the 2018-2019 academic school year. And like every parent, you want your child to succeed academically.  

Debra Mathinos, the director of education at the Harlem Heights Foundation, which has students in Lee County schools , provided several quick tips for parents to help their child have a successful school year.

Advice to Parents: How to Help Your Child Succeed This School Year

Positive Reinforcement. “It’s all about bolstering your child. Send them off every morning saying, ‘You are going to learn so much today, I can’t wait to hear about it think afternoon.’”

Realistic Expectations. “Don’t expect your child to be perfect. If they make a mistake talk to them about it, it’s not the end of the world.”

Stay Connected with the School. “What I recommend for folks who really want to be involved is to talk with the school, that is probably the key to all things homework and supporting the child with their homework.”

Help your child with their homework. Don't do it for them. "It's important for the parents to say, 'let's get you as far as you can, I'm going to support you not do it for you.' You don't want your child to fail; okay that is not a good life lesson for a child to learn because I don't know about you, I fail at least once a day."

Older students, such as those entering into their first year of college, can be more complicated to recognize if they need help. Parents may wonder, 'what is positive thinking from my child,' and, 'what may be signs to a serious problem?'

Those same tips that Mathinos recommends will have a significant impact on the child successfully acclimating to his or her new climate, excelling academically.

The beginning of a college education can be overwhelming, especially if the student graduated from a small high school or is several hours away from parents offering daily advice.

The child has to choose from a variety of classes, with full-time students selecting anywhere from 12 credits to 15 credits. (To determine the recommended amount of time to study per week, the student should multiply the credit hours by the number three. It can mean 36 hours for the former or 45 hours for the latter, of study time per week.)

Having to dedicate that much time to earn good grades in college courses will require time management skills. However, it may take longer than a semester to acclimate from a high school schedule to a college one.

Regardless, hard decisions need to be made, such as balancing academics with social life and financial obligations.

Parents should not feel uncomfortable with speaking with their child more than once or twice a week once he or she has left the nest for college. In conversations, positive reinforcement is still essential. Praise on high grades earned on an exam after sleeping early the night before are great.

On the other hand, when the child fails, remind him or her of previous success. Failure can have an impact on a child's outlook on life.

A parent that is far away or infrequently communicates with their child, might not recognize symptoms of depression, nor the changes the failure can have over the student's resilience and productivity over the next couple of weeks.

"K12 teachers have a huge advantage over college professors because they see the children every day," Dr. Susan J. Cooper, assistant professor in the College of Education at Florida Gulf Coast University, said. "They can notice changes better than a college professor can."

These tips for a successful school year will help your child succeed in the long run. But parents: don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back along the way!